Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sharky the Tiburon

Sometime in August of 2004 I was browsing for a new car. At the time I owned a 1995 automatic Nissan 240SX that was small, rear-wheel drive and automatic. Great car if you don't live in a snowy climate and don't enjoy driving. Unfortunately Utah = snow and automatic = boring. I decided that I needed something more front wheel drive and manual transmission. I'd driven an RSX which I loved, but just didn't have 21,000 for. I also drove a GTI which was pretty cool, but such a hideous vehicle. I went to a sale that was happening across from the apartment my mom lived at and looked at a 2003 Eclipse. I liked it, but after driving it I was very unimpressed with how heavy it felt. The salesman showed me a 2001 Tiburon FX which I liked considerably, but it had 80,000 miles on it and I'd heard bad things about Hyundai's. Then as I was leaving I saw this black car that I didn't recognize. Someone had just traded it in, it hadn't even been detailed yet. I went and found the salesperson and asked him about it and he said I could take it for a drive if I wanted, so I did. It was incredible. It sounded so throaty but calm and accelerated so freely and took corners almost like my 240sx, but felt more stable. I wanted it, but I didn't know anything about these cars and figured it was out of my price range.

I then found out (for better and for worse) that these Hyundais have terrible resale values and this car which cost about $23,000 brand new was only $16,000 a year later. As an 18 year old with a crappy job this was way out of my price range, fortunately I was 18 and still full of stupid choices so I bought it.

Little did I know that it would become one of the best stupid choices I've ever made.

Within the first 6 months of owning this car I had to have nearly everything replaced. Fortunately it had an extended 100,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty that the previous owner had bought for it so most of it was free, but the clutch, flywheel and pressure plate was not free. This was a $1,400 repair that made me hate this car with a passion. I wanted someone to just steal it from me so I could make an insurance claim and go buy another 240sx. At least that car never broke.

After having Hyundai replace a window motor, a power steering pump, a fuel pump, a radiator, an AC compressor and replacing the clutch assembly with my own money the car finally started working. I began to slowly fall in love with the car and for the next 6 years I never had a single major repair on the vehicle.

I'd take it to Bountiful on countless trips to see friends through any kind of weather and it handled like a champ.

I remember dating a girl who went to school at the school I would later call my alma mater, Utah State, and driving up there to see her a few times. Once Joe and I went up to see her and her roommate and we both ended up fooling around with our partner in Sharky. Kind of an awkward memory to look back on, but a funny one nonetheless.

At some point around my 21st birthday I realized that driving home from Halo parties at the same time successful people were making their morning commutes to work kind of made me a loser. I decided to start college. I needed the Hyundai to commute to and from Weber State and I made my first morning commute in the vehicle. Later I used the car as a subject for a photography assignment I had to take in the most pointless class I ever took in college, Art 1010.

The summer after my Freshman year. Eric, Joe, Shelly and I made a roadtrip to Vegas and Zion in the Tiburon. Shelly, my girlfriend at the time, unfortunately got dibs on the front seat and seeing two 6' tall men in the back of a Tiburon for the 500 mile trip was rather hilarious. I did let Eric drive home and Shelly and I napped in the back seat. Apparently he drove 100 mph most of the way. Sometime around this time, the Hyundai and I hit a big milestone. The 100,000 mile marker.

When I was 22 I decided to transfer to a better university, Utah State, and I moved to Logan, Utah. It was only about 60 miles away, so I figured I could get everything up there in my Tiburon. It made for a great truck and was able to accommodate 3 moves of me to and from Logan for my Sophomore, Junior and Senior years of college.

(I took this photo after graduating and moving to Oregon, hence the USU Alumni plate, haha.)

During the summer after my Sophomore year I paid the car off in full and I made a roadtrip in it to Southern California in it. We had some good times. Pissed off some hombres in a turbo Eclipse and then raced away, broke 120 mph through Southern Utah, got hollered at by some chicas in Vegas and even drove through a tunnel underneath downtown Los Angeles.

During my Junior and Senior years of college I was rather poor and mostly unemployed. They Hyundai almost seemed to know this and responded by never needing any repair attention and I maintained it the best that I could. It made some friends with my roommates cars, but it was far and away the best looking of the bunch.

After college I moved to Oregon for the summer to attend field camp. The Tiburon was again able to hold everything I needed and make the 1800 mile round trip. While there we drove through Ashland, Oregon multiple times, made a trip to the ocean and drove along a beautiful scenic drive next to the coast and drove through a forest of 300+ foot tall trees.

Over the course of my senior year and field camp the Tiburon had started to kind of go to crap. Partially due to my inability to afford repairs when they were needed and also due to the fact that it was an almost 10 year old Hyundai with 140,000 miles on it. The car had a check airbag light on, a check engine light on, a short in the passenger door that would blow the radio, a short in the gauge cluster that made me unable to see how fast I was going at night, a busted motor mount, suspension that was rubbing and making a terrible sound, a broken E-brake cable, a leaky AC and had begun overheating in city driving due to another leaky radiator.

It was a hard choice for me. I got a new job and could have afforded these repairs, but since it was also an option for me to just get something new, after 7 years of great experiences and fun times I decided it was time for a new car.

I purchased a 2010 Subaru WRX with the limited package (compass, HID lights, sunroof, those nice luxuries). It's in almost every way a superior car. Faster, handles better, 4 doors, sunroof, better gas mileage, all wheel drive, newer, less miles... but it will never replace the Tiburon. It will never quite be the amazing machine that so reliably got me from place to place for a very important and life changing 7 years of my life.

Sharky was the coolest car ever and I'll always love the GK model Tiburon despite its obvious shortcomings. To whoever owns the car next, I only hope they are some awesome kid with a little money to spend on a dated sporty coupe to get it back to its good running condition and that the car will take just as good of care of them as it did me. Thanks for seven awesome years of being the best car I ever and probably will ever own.

I think this will probably be the photo I always remember it by. Above a 3,000 foot climb through the desert of Eastern Oregon without another car as far as I could see or hear and wind ripping past us at a speed of at least 50 mph.

Such an amazing machine. I'll miss it.

Monday, August 8, 2011

My first experience as a real geologist.

I guess it has been a while since I last posted. Maybe I should quit slacking.

I just got back from my first trip to the field site on the Sevier Lake (near Delta, Utah.) It was a lot better than I expected to be honest. After last summer I had developed an understandable hatred of geological field work. Working for North American hiking around in the worst mountains ever, by myself, for 10 hours a day for $120/day (+ a per-diem) wasn't exactly my idea of a good situation, but it was work experience so I stuck with it... for about 2 weeks, haha.

When Norwest interviewed me for an office job and then offered me a field job working on a lake bed I was a little hesitant, but for over twice of what North American had paid me and in an economy that, while better than 2008, still kind of sucks for recent graduates, it's not like I had the option of saying no.

Besides I was at field camp when I got the offer and field camp was quite possibly one of the most awesome experiences of my life. How bad could professional field work be, right? Unfortunately my first day I have to admit I was less than excited for the experience, but I had acted super excited about the opportunity to everyone hoping the positive attitude would convince me that I really was excited.

I got to Salt Lake and parked the Tiburon in the parking garage, not to be seen for 8 days and got in the truck to head for the sprawling metropolis of Delta, population 3000. The drive there was good. I got along well with the geologic manager of the company, but this wasn't different from my experience last summer. The guy I worked for last summer was a fantastic person. We met up with the field supervisor that I'd be working for out there and he was a younger guy. This made me happy. It's always nice to have people with similar interests in life to work with. We went out to the field site and started analyzing core that the drillers brought us.

I was shown the papers we had to use to log the core information and told pertinent things I should look for. It was all pretty much stuff that I learned in school, just notated differently than I had done it before, and this was good. I felt comfortable with it. Even more important I felt like I was actually doing geology. This was a great improvement over my job last summer which just used my abilities of navigating a GPS and being able to hike for long distances.

For the next 8 days I spent time with the geologists, drillers and laborers working on the project and got to know them decently. The one geologist I work with is awesome. He reminds me of myself, had I grown up outside of the Mormon culture. I got a ride back to SLC on Monday and got in at about 1 or 2 pm. I loaded my stuff back into the Tiburon and felt good.

Later that night I hung out with the new girlfriend (yeah new girlfriend again.. shut up.. at least I try, okay?) and it was really nice seeing her and I had fun telling her about the fun experiences I had in Delta as well as playing Donkey Kong Country (she plays SNES, this is a good sign.) I got home at a lateish hour, probably 2am, and went to sleep. I ended up waking up at around 8am thinking to myself "Weird, I have this strange desire to go look at clay in tubes." That's kind of when I realized that I actually liked my job. I wasn't just telling myself I liked it or highlighting the high points of the week. There were certainly low points, such as the 14 hour day or when we had to walks two miles through mud because both snow cats broke down or when we had to work in 3 inches of standing water or the suicidal deer that attacked our truck head first at 5am or when lightning almost killed us.. but all of it was kinda fun. I only feared for my life once, which is about nine times less than I did on my assignment at the other job and I got to work with some pretty cool people, minus one rather unprofessional and unknowledgeable geologist from another company.

I also got my field camp credit transferred from SOU to USU. It showed up on my transcript today and I should be officially graduating in August, which means I'll receive my diploma sometime in 2016. That's exciting.

I like my job. I'm off until Monday and have some free time. I think I'll relax, spend some more time playing DKC and maybe go car shopping. I love the Tiburon, but it has been 7 years and to get it registered this month I'm going to need to spend about $1000 in repairs. That coupled with a new job that I'm excited to stay at means I can finally do something for myself that I've been wanting to do for a long while.

Another perk is that I can now use the phrase "Don't worry, I'm a geologist." in situations where it has no pertinent use such as zombie invasions or terrorist attacks. So next time you're stuck in a lightning storm and there is nothing around taller than you are - don't worry, your friend Brandon is a geologist.